I spend a lot of time debunking various myths, slogans and lies, and the undisputed champion of easily debunkable myths continues to be the Republican Party. But, until now, I don't think I've ever fully summarized the most glaring examples of GOP myths and lies. To be sure, this isn't to suggest that all Republicans are easily-misled simpletons. They're not. Yet their party consistently panders to its easily-misled simpleton base with the most egregiously dishonest ideas in American politics.
I hasten to note that this list obviously doesn't cover everything and I'm sure you'll have some additional examples for the comments below. But the following are definitely the 10 most mendacious things the GOP has attempted to foist upon the American public.
10) Obama Doubled the Deficit.
This was a favorite of the Mitt Romney campaign. Throughout 2012, Romney repeatedly said, "The president promised to cut the deficit in half. He's doubled it!" No. No he hasn't. First of all, this line depends entirely on voters not understanding the difference between the deficit and the debt. See previous "simpleton" remarks. Indeed, the president has absolutely cut the deficit by way more than half in his first five years. When he took office, the deficit for 2009 was projected to be $1.4 trillion. The deficit at the end of 2014 will be $514 billion, just three percent of GDP. That's a nearly $1 trillion reduction in five years. Not only that, but the administration boasts the lowest year-over-year increase in government spending since Truman, and it'll be one of just three administrations in the last 50 years that will have ended with a lower deficit than when it began. The last Republican do leave the White House with the same record was Eisenhower.
9) Man-Made Climate Change Is a Hoax.
According to a clearly liberal agency called "NASA," a full 97 percent of scientists with specific expertise in climate science agree that climate change is real and humans are causing it. We shouldn't really have to say anything else. Of course if you're Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber, and "one-in-a-million" means "there's a chance," then the three percent of scientists who aren't sure about climate change obviously indicates that it's a hoax.
8) Cold Weather Disproves Climate Change
Second in our trifecta of climate change myths is an annual favorite. Every time it snows, you know the drill. Whenever there's a snow storm everyone from Matt Drudge to Rush Limbaugh suddenly achieves nipple erections hard enough to cut glass. And out comes the myth that climate change can't possibly be real because it's snowing somewhere. What they fail to explain to their disciples is that New York City or Minnesota or Washington D.C. isn't, you know, the globe. Climate scientists base their global warming observations on global temperature averages. So while it might be snowing outside Sean Hannity's house, average temperatures year-over-year are growing progressively higher.
7) Tax Cuts Do More to Stimulate The Economy Than Food Stamps and Unemployment Benefits.
- Every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates1.61 in economic growth.
6) Cars Kill a Lot of People and No One Wants to Ban Them Like Guns!
Unlike firearms, cars aren't explicitly designed to kill or wound living beings (humans, animals, etc). They're designed to move you from one place to another. Yet unlike firearms, cars and drivers are heavily regulated by the government, from emissions standards to annual inspections to safety features, and so forth. You can't legally drive a car that doesn't feature seatbelts, or a car that spews too much exhaust into the air. You have to take both a written and a behind-the-wheel test to get a license to operate a car. You often have to renew that license at regular intervals and, if you're older, you have to prove that you're physically capable of driving a car. You can't drive a car while drinking alcohol or impaired by other chemicals. There are thousands of police officers patrolling our roads and, as most of us have experienced at one time or another, they will penalize or arrest you for improper handling of a car -- with literally hundreds of laws to abide, and considerable penalties, ranging from fines to imprisonment to the government stripping you of your right to drive a car at all. So if the NRA and its supporters are going to keep using this car analogy, then let's talk about regulating guns and gun owners the same way we regulate cars and drivers.
5) The Affordable Care Act Covers Abortion-Inducing Emergency Contraception.
Admittedly, there are so many Obamacare myths to choose from: death panels, IRS goon squads raiding homes, it's a "job killing" law, it's a "government takeover," etc. It's all a pile of hooey and definitely worth mentioning here. But this lie about emergency contraception coverage is so insidious that it even managed fool some liberals. Contrary to lawsuits by various religious businesses and organizations, the various forms of emergency contraception covered by the law do not, in fact, block implantation of a fertilized egg. If these medications were indeed abortifacients, they wouldn't be covered because it's illegal for the government to do so. But they're not abortifacients, so they're covered. Simply put: while some emergency contraception blocks implantation, the emergency contraception that's covered in the law blocks ovulation -- not implantation. Of course that won't stop the lawsuits or likely factor into the opinions of perhaps five Supreme Court justices when the first major Obamacare contraception decision drops this Summer.
Okay, just stop it with this. No, the Obama campaign wasn't handing out free phones in exchange for votes. However, there's definitely a program that offers low-cost telephones to citizens who can't afford one. The truth is the Lifeline program has been around since 1984 when, that's right, Ronald Reagan helped to create it. In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up a non-profit outfit called the Universal Service Administrative Company, which receives financial backing via the Universal Service Fund. According to its website, money for the program is contributed entirely by "long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers," and none of the funding comes from taxpayers via the federal government. It's all privately donated money.
3) It's Safer to Have a Gun in the House, or a Concealed Weapon on Your Person.
I'm going to step aside and let an actual Republican debunk this one. Here's David Frum:
A gun in the house minimally doubles the risk that a household member will kill himself or herself. (Some studies put the increase in suicide risk as high as 10 times.) An American is 50% more likely to be shot dead by his or her own hand than to be shot dead by a criminal assailant. More than 30,000 Americans injure themselves with guns every year.
2) Exhaling Releases "Dangerous" CO2.
This is so dumb, it easily ranks as the most ridiculous climate change lie. Yes, more ridiculous than the blizzard thing. It's truly astonishing that anyone with half-a-brain actually believes it. Speaking of half-a-brain, here are some prime offenders:
"Carbon dioxide is basically this. (Exhales.) Look at how much pollution I just put out."
"We exhale CO2. If were a poison, it wouldn't be part of the way we stay alive."
"Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature."
"Now I know there is also a movement to say that carbon dioxide should be guided or should be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don't want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I'm breathing too hard."
The stupidity is, pardon the pun, breathtaking. On the surface, this "exhaling" silliness sounds like it might be true -- if you're really into uneducated, simplistic explanations for very complex topics. Not only does human breathing not even make the list of greenhouse gases but, chiefly, the ecosystem wasn't designed to scrub out unprecedented levels of CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore all of that excessive CO2 is just lingering in the atmosphere, trapping heat and scrambling our weather patterns.
1) Voter Fraud Is a Serious Issue That Requires Strict New Voter ID Laws.
Nope. Not even close. Once again, this falls into the Lloyd Christmas category. Successful prosecutions of voter fraud cases barely amount to one one-hundredth of one percent of total votes cast in a single general election. In Ohio, for example, Secretary of State Jon Husted ballyhooed his war against fraud by nabbing a whopping 20 potential cases. 20 out of nearly six million votes cast in that state in 2012. The Bush Justice Department found that there were as few as 80 successful prosecutions of voter fraud cases out of hundreds of millions of votes cast since 2000. For this ratio of possible-fraud-to-votes-cast we're told we need laws that make it more difficult to vote. By the way, some Republicans came right out and said it: this is all about electing Republicans.
That's it. It's of course foolish to think the Republicans will drop these lies and myths any time soon. But as long as various Republicans continue to repeat these transparently obvious falsehoods, they should expect that the rest of us will continue to think they're either idiots or that they're deliberately trying to deceive their own people -- or maybe a little of both.